Saturday, January 26, 2008

A weather rant

If you live up here, you are probably feeling the effects of the weather. Not the various cold and crud viruses making the rounds like they do, but chances are you are occasionally-

Annoyed, aggravated, irritated, unsettled, stressed out, fed up, twitchy, having a bout of SAD, cabin fever, or the 1000 yard stare has settled onto your face without notice.

It's probably crossed your mind to bag living up here and to move someplace, any place, where 1) the weather does not have such wild swings, and 2) it either stays cold, or stays warm, or 3) anywhere without snow, ice, and rain.

This is especially true for those of us attempting to manage livestock which means outdoor chores of some type. It's becoming a struggle and I find myself haunting the weather websites like a virus myself, trying to out geuss the professional weather liars. I check satellite images, forecasts, and historical data. The last is worthless this year since if there is a pattern, it's that there isn't one.

From below zero to temps in the 40s inside 24 hours. Low humidity to pouring rain in the same. As the systems rocket from the mid Pacific ocean northwards, we might as well have a target painted on us as we unerringly get slammed with whatever front is pushed through-complete with large fluctuations in pressure. I find myself trying to stay on top of these wild highs and lows, because they play havoc on a horses' digestive system. I am constantly tweaking the hay fed, the amount of salt in the feed pans, whether or not I should provide a mash, blanket or not, repair or maintain the fences, arrange for plowing and the like.

After a while it becomes an added burden, managing the effects of the weather. As I tell myself "at least I don't have to have fans and misters due to heat" I bundle up (again) to feed more hay (again) while tromping through calf deep snow (again). Sigh.

Is it breakup yet?


Lori said...

Ive never thought of "bagging it" here. Although I wish some of the influx of greenhorns would. The area is getting to dense with people on small lots who want to change the surrounding neighborhoods.

Never a dull moment with Alaskan weather. I don't even bother to pay attention to the forecasts, I just look outside.
Folks seem surprised when it changes from one extreme to the next but that is what it has always done....for many years.

I do worry a little with the horses, not that they will be warm so much but that they are drinking plenty of water. Ive always been a big hay feeder so throwing out extra isn't a problem....except for the cost! Yikes!
But I figure its cheaper than a vet bill which will easily surpass the difference in your hay bill in just one visit.
Still, with all that dry matter sucking the moisture out of the gut you need to make sure the horses are getting PLENTY of water. Impactions are a pain to deal with in the winter (and expensive).
Irregardless of the weather it is best to practice good horsekeeping, no matter who cold.

horse snob said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one feeling this way. I live in a blow hole 20 miles east of Homer. The wind never seems to let up, it's just a matter of mph and direction.
I worry about the horses all the time. Blankets on, blankets off. I really hate to use them unless its really blowing. Two, two year olds and blankets, not a good combo.
Heating up water on the stove for warm mash, after we've hauled it in. Trudging through the snow (again) to deliver yet another serving of hay, that costs all most as much as a bag of weed. The joys of trying to find straw that's not riddled with lice.

But then the sun comes out, the ice thaws from their manes. The snow is all sparkly. Hell if your really lucky, the wind stops blowing for a second. I look around at the view, and I remember why I moved up here.
I guess that's why they say, you don't live in Alaska for the convenience.
All that said, HELL YA, COMON BREAK UP!

suvalley said...

horse snob, where are you finding hay down there? I have seen a couple Craigslist postings for hay needed in Homer area. If you get super desperate and are coming up Anchortown way anyhow, I may have a source or two for promises tho-people guard their hay suppliers like Ft Knox this time of year, lol

I work where there is wind. If there is any air movement between the two glacier valleys (Knik and Matanuska) you can be SURE I am getting it. I swear the location is smack dab in the middle....thankfully I live out of the main wind patterns for the most part. Only get nailed when it is northeast usually, which I did not know when I built the barn-which faces due east. I should have turned it a bit for more shelter, dagnabbit.

I have hauled water for ten head before, I feel your pain on that. But I was fortunate to have a tank mounted in a pickup, and I could fill at work, drive to barn, back up to fenceline and gravity feed into the stock tank. Big pita tho! 90 gallons at whack, about nine times a week.

horse snob said...

I have been buying my hay through Jeanie Fabrich (sp?). She has the Anderson Orchard grass hauled in from WA. The going price is 520/ton. It's beautiful looking stuff, unfortunately my horses aren't impressed. I supplement with Horse Guard vits, Delta Hay pellets and beet pulp. My hub thinks meal prep is some kind of science project. I work out of my home so I'm able to feed 6 times a day.
We are a little less than a mile off the road system. So we snowmachine in and out.
We are lucky to have water available on the property, we just didn't get it plumbed in to the cabin last year.
My hub, (mcgyver wanabe) fabricated a sled to pull behind the snow machines for hauling water, works really well. Sounds like you started like we are, a little rustic, but you do what you have to do to make it work. Although I have to say, I can't imagine hauling for 10 head, omg.
Shelter, there's another delima. I have my loafing shed pointed South. Most of the wind here is N, NE. Until we put up the shed, seems like it's been coming out of the S all winter. Should have went with west. They can get behind it when need be, and at least get a block from the wind. If I have my choice between plumbed water and a usable barn this summer, I'm all about the barn.